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Boeing Gets Serious NTSB Rebuke After it ‘Blatantly’ Violated Federal Regulations When it Held Secret Media Briefing

Boeing Gets Serious NTSB Rebuke After it ‘Blatantly’ Violated Federal Regulations When it Held Secret Media Briefing

men sitting in an airplane

Embattled aircraft manufacturer Boeing has received a serious rebuke from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) after the company decided to hold a secretive media briefing about the ongoing investigation into the mid-cabin door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines 737MAX in January.

In a blistering statement, the NTSB accused Boeing of “blatantly” violating federal investigative regulations, as well as an agreement it had signed with accident investigators into the January 5 incident.

Boeing had invited select members of the media to a briefing held on Tuesday where a Boeing executive provided investigative information despite signing a party agreement with the NTSB which expressly forbade them from sharing this information.

In its withering attack on the Chicago headquartered aerospace giant, the NTSB noted that as Boeing has been involved in numerous investigations over the decades, “few entities know the rules better than Boeing”.

Throughout the investigation into Alaska Flight 1282, the NTSB has been sharing important investigatory evidence with Boeing but, as a direct result of Boeing’s ill-considered media briefing, those privileges have now been stripped in order to keep important evidence under wraps.

“Because of Boeing’s recent actions, Boeing will retain its party status, but no longer have access to the investigative information the NTSB produces as it develops the factual record of the accident,” the NTSB statement explained.

“The NTSB may subpoena any relevant records it requires during the course of the investigation,” the statement continued.

If things couldn’t get any worse for Boeing, the NTSB also announced that it would be referring Boeing to the Fraud Division of the Department of Justice over the unauthorized media briefing.

The allegations against Boeing include providing secret information from the investigation to the media, as well as offering opinions and analysis, and a Boeing executive suggested to “causal to the accident”.

At one point during the briefing, Boeing suggested that the NTSB investigation was focused on finding the individual engineer responsible for fitting the faulty door plug that blew out and caused an explosive decompression as the brand-new 737MAX-9 took off from Portland Airport.

The role of the NTSB in this investigation, a spokesperson explained, was to unearth the probable cause of the accident rather than finger-pointing at individuals.

Boeing remains under criminal investigation for a possible breach of a ‘deferred prosecution agreement’ stemming from the fatal Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines 737MAX crashes. In recent days, it has emerged that the DOJ will recommend a prosecution.

Executives from Boeing are due to appear at an NTSB investigation hearing on August 6 and 7 in Washington DC, and if they refuse, the agency says it will subpoena the company to the hearing.

Unlike other parties taking part in the hearing, the NTSB plans to ban Boeing from cross-examining others involved in the hearing.

View Comments (2)
  • As of 2023, the Boeing Company’s corporate headquarters is located in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington County, Virginia (not Chicago).

  • WHEN are people going to get it? Boeing does what it wants, always has, always will. I’d love to see their annual budget for ‘marketing’. As long as their planes continue to sell, Boeing will continue it’s business plan. And why not? Obviously there’s no downside from Boeing’s perspective.

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